Choosing Sides by David Mills

Choosing Sides

The Temptation to Transcend Politics

Many of us, of the activist but bookish sort who read and write for magazines like this, know well the feeling that one does not want to be associated with either side of a divisive public debate and the wish that there were some other choice, some third way transcending the polarized positions in which everyone else is entrenched as helplessly and ineffectively as the French and German armies on the Western Front.

This feeling sometimes comes from intellectual snobbery, more often from an impatience with the limits of politics, there being an idealist if not a utopian in most of us. It may come also from a genuinely nonpartisan mind. We can see that people in any conflict tend to settle around two poles for reasons that don’t always take into account every possibility. As Christians who have only a temporary and pragmatic allegiance to any earthly political movement, we can sometimes see alternatives the partisans cannot.

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David Mills has been editor of Touchstone and executive editor of First Things.

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